The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Background Check Question and Answer Information
You hear about it in the news, on the radio, and on television. Workplace violence on the rise. Embezzlement is on the rise. Sexual harassment in the workplace is on the rise. Background checks on all future hires are even MORE important now than ever. It is important for any company to know who they are hiring before they hire anyone. A thorough background check should be performed regarding criminal, educational, identity, and employment history including a credit check and a drug test to ensure who you hire is an authentic employee who will be a valuable asset to your company. A background check for all employees is well worth the investment and could save you a lot of time and trouble in the long run!
You should state to all new hires that you are a company that performs background checks in order to verify that all information is correct. This will make sure any hires do not attempt to falsify information and deter any hires that really do not belong with your company. Depending on the results of the background check, you may hire based on your own discretion. While a background check may not be perfect, it should not discourage you from hiring a new employee. Depending on the circumstances, you may want to give the new hire a chance, because the new hire may be the hardest and best working employee you have ever hired.
There are a lot of questions about background checks, but where can you find an expert that will put your mind at ease? Well, we have gathered some of those questions and answers right here for you in this infographic titled 21 FAQ about background checks.
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21 Frequently Asked Questions
About Background Checks
1. Do I need a background check?
- Yes you do!
- Unless you are hiring very young people often, you will want to perform checks. Even fast food restaurants ask about prior convictions on their applications
- Performing checks protects your business and your workers
2. Are background checks required by law?
- In some cases, YES
- For example:
Positions requiring contact with children require a criminal background check to avoid hiring a sex offender
- Check with your state laws for other requirements
3. What liability can I open myself up for if I don’t perform a check?
- If a new worker injured another and has a violent history, you could be sued for not performing due diligence before hiring
- Investors could also sue if a new employee embezzles from the company and threatens their investments
4. What checks do I need to perform?
- The law may require you to perform certain checks, but for most positions, you will only need to perform:
- – a standard background check
- – a criminal background check
- – and possibly a drug test
5. What types of background checks are there?
- The types of checks include:
- – Standard checks (prior addresses, prior jobs)
- Criminal background checks
- Credit checks
- Military background checks
- Drug Tests
6. Which types of jobs require credit checks?
- Credit checks are used on people in finance and executive positions
- If a new hire is going to have significant access to a company’s coffers, it is probably wise to run a credit check on them
7. Which type of jobs require criminal background checks?
- Most employers will run a criminal background check on candidates as a matter of due diligence
- In some cases you may be required to do so because of the job
- Jobs in security, pharmaceuticals, the military, and working with children generally require greater scrutiny
8. I want to run a polygraph test. Can I?
- If you have to ask, the answer is probably NO
- EXCEPT for certain positions, running a polygraph test is illegal
- Positions that require contact with pharmaceuticals and armored car drivers are notable exceptions
9. I saw an ad for a free background check. Should I trust it?
- It may seem like a great deal, but it’s TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. Most online checks only search through publicly accessible databases for information
- Reputable companies will go much further for you. You will also receive no customer support or compliance advice from a free site. It is worth it to pay the fee to have a professional company perform the check. They will be able to get you both more and more accurate information
10. What is a good turnaround time for a background check?
- This depends on how many checks you want to run and how far back in time you wish to check
- It also depends on the institutions that the background check company has to work with
- For example: Different courts run at different speeds for turning around information. Some types of checks require a phone interview. Turnaround times can vary form 3 business days up to two weeks
11. Can I perform a background check on my own?
- It is possible, but it will be very inefficient. WHY?
- √ Most companies do not have the resources or the time to contact court houses and dig through public records to gather all the information and check it for accuracy
- √ You would also have to comply with laws about gathering information
- Having a third party perform checks also helps protect you from legal liability. It is best to hire an outside company to do your checks
12. Which checks do I need to get permission for?
- All checks require information and permission from the candidate before you can run them
- But some require specific paperwork and permissions
- The background check company you use will have all the forms and information you need to legally run your checks
13. Can I use social media information in my hiring decisions?
- You may have heard about hiring managers asking people for social media passwords so they can check their activities. Best practice right now is to not do this, at least until the courts have made their decisions
There are several cases in the court system right now about this issue. Some states have already decided that this practice is illegal. However, anything that is publicly accessible on the Internet is considered a public record. Have the right person before jumping to conclusions!
14. Where can I get more information about my state’s background check laws?
- Talk with a business lawyer or view this document from the Society for Human Resources
15. How far back should I check?
- This entirely depends on your company’s policies
- √ Seven years is a good standard
- √ Some go back as far as ten years
- √ Others only check the past three
- Your state may have limitations on how far back you can go, or how far back they will retain certain types of information
16. Is background check information ever wrong?
- Sometimes it is, but not frequently
Clerical errors or fraud from other people cause errors in databases. If you do deny a candidate on the basis of a background check, you may be required to disclose the report and where you got the information from
- The candidate may counter with records of their own, and they can file a dispute with the background check company
You do not have to wait for the candidate to prove the check wrong before hiring someone else once you have advised them of your decision
17. Do I have to reveal to the candidate what I learned from the background check?
- If you deny them based on the background check information, the answer is YES
18. What do I need to run the check?
- You need the full name of the candidate and their date of birth
- You may also need their SSN, but in most cases you do not need this
Criminal records are not kept by SSN
- Your background check company will let you know what is required for the types of checks you want to run
19. How long can I retain the information I receive from a background check?
- The federal policy for this is to hold it for 1 – 2 years if someone is not hired, and to hold it for six years after termination for anyone who is hired
- √ There are no laws regulating how long you need to retain background check information, but some companies do it as a matter of course
- √ The information should be held in a separate location away from their personnel file. However, some companies destroy the information as soon as someone is hired
- Your state may have specific laws on this matter as well
20. Should I automatically reject a candidate based on a background check?
- Not necessarily
- You may be required to in some circumstances, but every hiring manager has to weight the information they have received
- For example:
Someone forgetting their exact address from 10 years ago does not necessarily mean they are a liar
21. Am I legally obligated to deny someone employment based on their background check?
- Only in cases where it is required by state or federal law
- This is mostly a concern when the position involves contact with children
- Check your state laws for more details